Picture this: Your mother in her Santa sweater, your father in his red tie with tiny green wreaths in a home garlanded like Auntie Mamie’s duplex. Sis, decked out in velvet, is pouring eggnog for your Aunt Betty and Uncle Ralph as her brother keeps an eye on her munchkins who are pulling the candy canes from the tree. Mom is orchestrating the perfect gravy with cousin Susan in the kitchen.
Enter Stage Left Through A Door Adorned with Sleigh Bells
The prodigal gay son with his significant other who everyone thought was his buddy. Son introduces his friend as his boyfriend and announces that he is gay.
Conversation halts. Boyfriend is embarrassed. Mom and Dad are speechless. Everyone is uncomfortable. Now the holiday is all about you. What’s wrong with this picture?
Act I Didn’t Get Rave Reviews
Holidays, while a gathering time for families, should not be used as a platform for coming out. It will make your holiday insufferably long.
Parents need time to process the information. Even though they may know in their hearts that you are gay, it is different to hear it from the source! Your important pronouncement deserves discussion in a non-distractable atmosphere and respect from those who need time to digest this earth-shaking news. Hectic holiday pace may cause family members to act strangely.
When Is A Good Time?
Although you may be bursting to tell your parents or feel an obligation to tell them because they have raised you, be sure the surroundings are compatible.
Choose a more relaxed time – perhaps a summer picnic, day at the beach, a non-holiday weekend.
Before you arrive home, you can make a decision about “being out” to each family member.
You may consider writing a letter that can be revisited several times by family members.
Discuss in advance how you will talk about relationships during your visit.
Connect with someone else who is LGBT who has experience coming out to get advice on breaking the news.
If you know in advance that your parents are homophobic and may try to eject you during the holidays, consider spending the holiday with a “chosen” family, one that is positive about your sexual orientation and will be supportive in your journey towards self-affirmation.
For more tips, see my blog http://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/There’s-No-Place-For-Coming-Out-for-the-holidays/12/23/13 and
PFLAG (Parents for Families and Gays), with nationwide chapters, also has advice on coming out http://community.pflag.org/lgbtholidays.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.